Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/22/12
  Are the Ravens the league's most underrated team? It sure seems that way. After a rash of injuries knocked out a pair of starters on the defensive side of the ball, Baltimore was left for dead.  So while everyone turned away, Flacco and the still stout defensive unit have put together a quietly elite performance through ten games. Sure missing Ray Lewis in the middle hurts, but he may be better served as a quasi-coach and motivational coordinator on the sidelines. Losing Webb on the corner and having Ngata banged up in the middle of the defensive line probably hurts the defensive unit as a whole more.  Baltimore hasn't exactly been getting it done in convincing fashion this year, with six of their eight wins coming by seven points or less. But they find ways to pull it out, and against a Chargers team that is struggling to remain relevant, they should be able to pull another one off despite having to travel across the country.  It was not long ago that at least one expert would pick the Chargers to finally break out and win it all. LT and Turner and Sproles are gone though. As is Vincent Jackson and few weapons have been brought in that have had any much success. Rivers is a master of garbage time in a way that can skew his numbers, but his play has regressed to a point that the Chargers would not be crazy to start grooming his replacement in the near future.  Ryan Mathews was supposed to be that every down back that could carry the load for San Diego. But between countless injuries and the inability to hit a hole, he has disappointed thus far in his career after the Chargers took him in the first round. After signing Meachem and Eddie Royal, Danario Alexander has somehow emerged as the only thing resembling a big play threat.  The Chargers have given up thirty plus points in two straight and four of the past six games. Their endless attempt to fall flat with their draft picks has never been more evident. Larry English, Mathews, Corey Liuget and Melvin Ingram have been their first round picks in consecutive years, with none of them being able to step in and make an impact needed to be competitive in the AFC. This ineptitude goes to the top, and the calls for Norv and AJ Smith will once again rise up after the season wraps up.  But enough about the Chargers embarrassing management. Do they have a chance to take care of the Ravens? There is little reason to believe that they will. Ray Rice has been struggling as of late, but he seems primed for a breakout performance on the West Coast. He has been getting the touches, it has just been a matter of breaking big plays. The Ravens rushed for 100+ yards in each of the first five games, but just once since then. Look for that trend to turn in their favour down the stretch as they get back to basics and play Ravens football.  While the Ravens have a solid record, they have not been a betters dream this year. They have failed to cover consistently in pulling out their close games. But this game has such a tight line that all the Ravens need to do is win outright and the cover is theirs.  Eric Weddle has been his usual ball hawking self for the Chargers secondary this season, but aside from him the secondary has struggled. Their run prevent has already shone through either. Five teams have gone over the century mark against them this year, including the Chiefs on two occasions.   Pick of the Week record: 4-7. It has not been pretty lately. It is time to look elsewhere for your pick of the week? Never!  Last week the writing was on the wall for Brady to show Luck who the master was. But if it weren't for a pair of defensive scores and a fumble, the Colts were in the game. On to the next one.   

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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